A couple of members on the forums have indicated that they would like to know more details of how I create my own transfers for lining and lettering pre-grouping models.
I have already written a little in my earlier post "Cheats Lining & Lettering" and I must also admit that, because I model GWR prototypes, much of what is needed can actually be bought from the trade! I am one of those "scratch-builders" that likes to do things "because I can"
I use a Windows PC, together with Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) software, to produce the 'artwork' and print onto white Inkjet Water-Slide Decal Paper from http://www.craftycomputerpaper.co.uk/ , using a Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 6980 printer. Of course, other equipment and materials could be used but these are what I am familiar with and will describe in detail. I use the 'white' decal paper, rather than 'clear', because printers are designed to print on a white background and the inks tend to be too transparent to show up against a dark background. In addition, there is no white ink, so white areas are formed by letting the white background show through.
I shall begin by describing a rather basic operation:- that of creating boiler bands.
To do this, we have to set up the computer and associated printer to work to scale and then use these tools to produce the various coloured lines which, together, make up the band. For GWR locomotives, during the period 1881 - 1906, the standard boiler bands consisted of a 1½" wide black band, flanked by two 1/8" orange-chrome lines.
Since 1/8" is the smallest dimension in the lining that I am designing, I base the settings in PSE around this figure. I feel that a 3 pixel (px) wide line is the minimum for reliable and even printing, so my first calculations assume that 3 pixels will equate to 1/8" in the prototype. Hence, if 1/8" = 3 px then 1" will need 24 px and 1 foot will need 288 px. I model in 4 mm scale (1/76), so these 288 px will be required to represent a distance of 4 mm on the model, or 72 px = 1mm. Hence, I need to set up a new page in PSE to a resolution of 720 px/cm. Click on 'New' and enter the dimensions shown below into the box that appears (I use a rather old version of PSE, so your input box may look different), These dimension will provide 10 cm lengths of lining - adjust the width of the drawing area if you need more or less.
New Page Set-up in PSE
When producing transfers, I aim to surround the patterned areas with the underlying body colour, to make for a smooth transition to adjacent painted areas. Thus, I flood-fill the new page with the basic green colour of the boiler. When I open the 'pre-1928' green from http://www.gwr.org.uk/liverieslococolour.html , the PSE colour picker indicates the colour as R,G,B = (1,46,3), so I fill with this, as the background colour.
Now use the 'Line' tool to draw a horizontal black line, with the width set to 36 px (= 1½") - hold down the 'Shift' key to constrain the tool. 'Simplify' this line, then draw an orange-chrome line of width 3px, close to the first line. For 'orange-chrome', I used R,G,B = (255,128,64). Zoom in to 'Actual Size' and use the 'Move' tool to place the orange line immediately adjacent to the black line. Repeat for the orange line on the opposite side of the band, and then 'Flatten' the image, in the 'Layers' menu. If you want to know more about moving and manipulating layers in PSE, you might like to read my article at http://home.btconnect.com/mike.flemming/layers.htm
Placing line with the 'Move' tool in PSE
If you want more lengths of this lining, select the complete band then copy and paste duplicate versions on your transfer sheet. Use 'Print Preview' to see how the complete transfer will appear on the page and, preferably, move the image towards the top edge of the sheet, so that the rest of the sheet can be used for other images. If you want to save the image for later use, save it as a TIFF file, rather than JPEG, to avoid any artefacts, which will spoil the crisp edges of the lines.
Print Preview screen in PSE
It's now necessary to set up your printer for high-quality printing at maximum dots per inch (DPI). On my HP printer, I select 'Presentation printing' under the 'Printing Shortcuts' tab and 'Maximum dpi' under the 'Paper/Quality' tab. This results in 4800 x 1200 dpi printing. Other printers will have different set-up procedures, so experimentation may be needed to get the best results.
I place a single sheet of decal paper in the feeder tray and, after printing, leave about 15 minutes for the ink to dry thoroughly. I use a guillotine to cut off the printed area - the rest of the sheet can be saved for further use. Next, it is vital to spray or brush the whole surface of the decal with waterproof varnish - I use Humbrol clear gloss, as I find the matt finish gives a slightly 'milky' look and softens the detail. Some printer inks (e.g. Epson) are claimed to be waterproof but I have not tried these and probably wouldn't trust them without varnish!
I cut out the bands individually from the transfer sheet, leaving a green edge to blend with the boiler paintwork, and immerse each one in clean (demin or distilled) water, with a couple of drops of washing-up liquid added as a wetting agent. The decals will curl up at first but should flatten after a minute or so - this can be helped with a paintbrush. I also 'paint' the body of the model with the same water and then use a paintbrush to slide the transfer off the backing paper onto the model, and tamp it down into place with the brush. Job done
Actually, you may find that 'true scale' lining is too 'subtle' in 4 mm scale (or smaller), so I have found that a slightly wider orange line can be desirable. Trial and error may be needed to meet your personal taste. The example shown below is my GWR 'Stella', converted from a Mainline Dean Goods. It was my first attempt and I may have over-done the orange a little, at least for photographic purposes - it looks quite good (to me), in practice.
GWR 'Stella' with 'home-made' Lining and Lettering
Next time, I will write about panels, corners,and adding logos, etc.